On the Wednesday morning of April the 14th, right after I took out the garbage, I noticed that I experienced some tightness when I was bending my left knee going up the stairs. As time goes by the knee begins to swell. By lunch time, it was swollen to the point that I can no longer bend my knee and I can feel a continuous throbbing pain around my left knee. I can also feel that the temperature around my knee has also been elevated. When I took some measurements with a touchless temperature sensor for measuring fevers, my left knee is like 2ºC more than my right knee. This is not my first gout attack, but it has been very long since my last one that I couldn’t even remember when I had it.
I decided to document my current experience, so that next time, I personally have something to recount. Therefore, this blog entry is more for myself than you the reader if you are reading this already.
I have had swollen joints due to gout in my ankle and my knee, always on my left side for some reasons. I wasn’t sure whether I should take Allopurinol or wait until the attack subsides. I seem to recall that in the past that I should not take any Allopurinol during an attack, but the recollection was pretty murky, and doctors are hard to come by these days, so I read the following article: Allopurinol Doesn’t Worsen Acute Gout Attacks, and decided to take Allopurinol in my medicine cabinet. Later on I found out from my family doctor and my local pharmacist that I may have been better off not taking it. What I can tell you is that it started to heal even with the taking of Allopurinol during the attack, so there is some truth to the above article.
I also decided to take Ibuprofen which is available over the counter to reduce the inflammation. The Ibuprofen worked within a couple of hours and really helped with the throbbing. In the end, there is not much to do but to wait and drink lots of water and let my system dissolve and eat away at the uric crystals in my knee.
I got some diclofenac sodium topical cream, which I applied on the affected area overnight. Unfortunately, I felt some skin irritation, and an over tightening or stretching of the skin situation. I had to wash it out in the morning and stuck to Ibuprofen. A single does of 400mg Ibuprofen didn’t do the trick. I had to double the dosage to 800mg.
My hope of the swelling going away in a few days was dashed on the first weekend when I knew that it was getting worse and not better. It was not until the second weekend (approx. 10 days into the ordeal) when I can finally begin to bend my knee. At this point I stopped taking the Ibuprofen and let it naturally take its course.
By the third week, I can bend my knee for most daily activities but going down the stairs and simple things like putting on my pants still created a sharp pain sensation.
This has been the longest gout attack that I have experienced. This time around, I noticed significant muscle atrophy in my left thigh and calf. I also noticed pull tendon or cramping sensations when going down the stairs. Fortunately these sensations went away as I started to do more walking in the latter part of the third week.
On day 22, I still have minor pain on my knee cap but I was able to walk so I did a 3.5 km walk with my wife in the evening of May 6th. Since there were no additional swelling the following day, I decided to do an indoor bike ride of 20km. Yesterday was another 3.5 km of walking and today another indoor ride.
As you can see from the Strava statistics, I am improving, so back in the saddle and back on the climb. Slowly but surely.